The Cool House: blogs
Showing posts with label blogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogs. Show all posts

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shelter for Haiti

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

It's 4:30 AM, pouring with rain and the dog (Polly) refuses to leave the shelter of the big conifer to come inside. I'm about to lose my patience when Laura reminds me that millions in Haiti are still homeless. I feel ashamed.
Go visit Laura who is actually doing something to help in the way of another fabulous bag-of-goodies auction while I try and entice the dog indoors with a snack...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So with The Great Interview Experiment comes the payback - the bit where someone interviews me. That sorry task fell to the very thoughtful and amusing Ozma whose blog title sums it all up: Hah!. You should check out her blog - you never know who you'll run into in the comments section...

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Or another delve into the photo albums. (Bonus: my kids are going to freak when they read this. I expect shrieks to be heard all the way from BXL)

Jean Martha, curator of Renovation Therapy and lover of beautiful fabrics, sent me a link to this blog from UK artist and designer Jane Foster. As I scrolled through the gorgeous images I came across this doll that looked familiar. Then I zeroed in on the text: "the doll I designed for Clothkits".

Clothkits! Way back when I dressed the kids in Clothkits. These are ready-made Clothkit dresses and somewhere in a toybox stashed in the secret room is an original Clothkits doll I sewed for them.

Dungarees, dresses and sailor hats, robes and padded jackets, I made them all from their ready to sew fabric. It was a delightfully easy experience. The fabric was printed with the pattern ready to cut; wadding, binding and all the other haberdashery goodies were included and each came with a pattern for a wee stuffed animal to go in the pocket. They were ADORABLE. (I made the jackets large so they could wear them for several seasons, that's why one poor child is swamped).

See that elephant on the front of the jacket, the one I stitched around to highlight? That is a muff. A place to warm tiny hands made icy while forming snowballs. And it's attached to the coat so it never gets lost. Genius.

Clothkits suffered an expansion and bust scenario many years ago that put them out of business but it seems they are back.

Anyway, enough with the happy memories and cuteness. Go visit Jane Foster's blog and as Jean Martha says "lose a few hours" in the retro-inspired fabrics, modern and vintage... she even has a store where fabric cats rule!. Enjoy!

After that, hop on over to Julia's Hooked on Fridays blog fest to browse through her family heirlooms

Monday, July 06, 2009

If You liked KC You're Gonna Love Kansas

So by now you have realised that I was in Kansas City for a couple of days. The raison d'etre for the midwest excursion was a little business and a visit to the renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art but I grabbed the chance to take a side trip into Kansas to meet with home builder and food blogger Marilyn of Simmer Till Done in the "coolest college town in the US".
I've been following Marilyn since her house blogger days, admiring her design aesthetic and vicariously enjoying the thrill of the chase as she tracked down plumbing fittings, vintage hardware and decorative items on ebay. What kept me reading was her writing; her turn of phrase and wry humor that permeated every post. Towards the end of construction she began to post the recipes and mouth-watering photographs of food that eventually became Simmer Till Done.
Let me tell you that in real life she doesn't disappoint. Meeting Marilyn was like catching up with an old friend; so many stories to share, experiences to expand upon, blogs we love and bloggers we know. We talked as we toured the town, I learned the history and fun facts (the town grid is made up of numbered streets crossed with states in the order they joined the union); we chatted as I explored her beautiful house and met her lovely family including the famous Cleo and wandered back into town for coffee. Five hours later we were still talking. Here's just a taste:

Perfect bites of happiness: She baked Rugelach and sent me home with a doggy bag full.

She's a bit of an alchemist, turning simple ingredients into homemade Limoncello and other flavored liqueurs - smooth and sweet with an unexpected kick at the finish

She showed me this breadboard in real life

and took me to a bank to eat artisanal antipasti and salad. A side note: Do you know how difficult it is to eat when you just can't stop talking?
Another fun fact to finish? Her town has some 90,000 residents. Marilyn seems to know each and everyone personally - either that or it is also the friendliest town in the midwest!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce

It's been a while since I posted anything food-related on the blog. A combination of laziness, greed (do you realise we have to wait to eat while I take shots?) and twitter. Blame twitter. It's so much quicker to post 140 characters online than mess around with html.
Anyway, I am actually inspired by this lack of summer to make some dishes rather than the usual "Go to store, pick up salads, cheese and pate, open wine and call it a picnic" meals we eat this time of year. Yesterday I used up leftover polpo, peppers, rice and tomatilla salsa with frozen prawns, sauteed garlic and 1/3 bottle of white wine for a simple, summery lunch and made a Panna Cotta with fresh berries for today's dessert. I had planned to serve it with red berry coulis and fresh cherries but then I saw something that made me think why not drizzle it with a little Caramel Sauce? Heaven.
Panna Cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make. Really! It's just cream jelly (Jello). I'm not even going to bother to write out a recipe, there are hundreds around, each as simple as the last. Try David Lebovitz's below. And if you have any doubts about making your own caramel sauce go and see Marilyn at Simmer Till Done. She will hold your hand, mop your fevered brow and guide you through the process for perfecting sweet, buttery and slightly salty caramel. You'll never go back to a jar again!

Panna Cotta
David Lebovitz has a perfect recipe with tips
(If you oil the molds as he suggests you won't have to do what I did and ease them out with a knife, see photo. Do as I say, not as I do!)

Caramel Sauce
I told you: Go see Simmer

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reading about blogs and more pink..

A while ago I challenged six bloggers to write about Six Uninteresting Things That Made Them Happy. Let's check in and see what they are up to.
From ThirteenEleven: I learned something today about Pink. Like who is responsible for those pink 50s bathrooms? Mamie Eisenhower, that's who... Who knew?
Over at the House on Red Hill S has been catching up on her blog reading but hasn't yet throught of 6 things that make her happy...
Just Off the Taconic did post her list and some pretty photos to go with it
Nadine at Bouler Design Group got her 6 things in early and is now having literary thoughts
Heidi at faboolosity is having an existential moment
Kathleen is beautifying the yard over at House Things I Like
What are you up to today?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Uninteresting? Happy? Moi?

I've been tagged by the stylish From the Right Bank to the Left Coast to come up with six uninteresting things that make me happy - all those who think they already know too much about me and none of it could be called interesting, can just be quiet and those who say I'm rarely happy can move along. I'm in no mood for sarcasm today, I'm going to be positively full of joy!

In no particular order:

The water - coastline, lakes, bays, the ocean - it doesn't matter, to see the water every day makes me calm and happy

Snow - the first fat flakes falling out of the night sky and the crisp crunch of the icy crystals the following day.

Expressive flowers: blooms that beckon and sensual blossoms

The smell of old books: cloth covered or leather-bound and the age-stained pages of old encyclopedias

Seasonal food: A plate of fresh red cherries... or heirloom tomatoes ripened in the sun... or a simple salad

The clink of glasses, that happy sound that signals the start of a celebration, or a simple meal shared with friends. Cheers!

Now I'm tagging six inspiring people to do the same:
Nadine at Bouler Design Group
Another New Yorker Just Off the Taconic
Heidi at faboolosity
Jenni at ThirteenEleven
Kathleen from House Things I Like
and The House on Red Hill
All you have to do (but only if it makes you happy) is to find uninteresting things that make you happy, choose 6 people to tag and link your post back to me...

Monday, May 18, 2009

The weekend: Highs and Lows

A quick round-up of the weekend:

Highlights: Dinner with Mme Faboolosity and Hubby in the old 'hood, followed by Jill Sobule concert at The Landmark on Main Street. Spent evening coveting Jill's red velvet wedges.

Sunset on the deck in Huntington Bay, appetizers for dinner. (Cell service at the beach!)

Taking photos of the yard followed by best BBQ spare ribs and black beans ever.

Lows: First ever failed fairy cakes. I took this as a personal insult! (N.B. Failure does not mean inedible. There are only four left and I don't eat cake...)
Not fun yard work: weeding, removing thorny suckers and sucky vines; pruning the dead twigs from azalea bushes
Thousands of tiny caterpillars discovered the day after weeding - all over clothes, bedroom floor, bathroom. (The Guy had said the previous evening he thought ants were crawling over him and the zyrtec he took hadn't helped...)

Hitting head on outside lamp while taking close ups of planter... two of the three bulbs are no longer working but I have lump the size of lightbulb where I smacked it...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Designers' Lunch

Two designers and one person with definite ideas on design (moi) sat down for lunch today. You'll have to imagine them at the table because two are camera shy, and as usual at The Cool House there was a lot of running around with the cats and dogs and zero time for picture posing. But it was my pleasure to introduce The Awesome Designer to The Kitchen Designer over a little salad, some wine and a very satisfying raspberry and apricot tart. There's something about a pseudo-working lunch on a Monday that makes it both illicit and relaxing. Lots of fun anyway, and then a side trip so The Kitchen Designer could check out The Awesome Designer's kitchen, which was as stunning as always. A very enjoyable couple of hours for me. What did you do today?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tweet, Blog, Tweet, Blog, Tweeeeet

The observant amongst the blog readership will have noticed the Twitter link that has appeared on the upper right side of the blog page. I resisted this for a really long time, partly because my pre-iphone cell was not made for frivolous texting, but mainly because I asked myself how interesting could it possibly be to tell the ethernets that I just fed the cats? Or the damn owl will not shut up and it's only 3 PM? Or I was planning on early cocktail hour?* Of course, back then I was at the first stage of grief twitter acceptance. I progressed pretty quicky through stages two through four and now I'm happily ensconced in Stage Five - microblogging.
The issue for me is that I need everything in my world to be interconnected but for each part to keep its essential integrity. So while I love that my blog posts are fed immediately to my twitter page, I'm less thrilled that they also bounce back to the right sidebar of my blog. Are you with me so far? When I publish this post it will be the first tweet under the Twitters header. Tautology, do you see? Copycat posting. Overload.
Of course there's a way to solve this problem. I simply have to tweet three more times and the offending blog post is confined to the trash can of twitterlife. Fine, but some days it means I'm reduced to twittering about what I fed my cats, the damn owl and cocktails. Speaking of which.....

*yes, all true tweets, sadly enough

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Healthy Eating?

Okay, this is an absolutely hysterical post from the NY Times Blogs.

Nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden has created several lists of healthful foods people should be eating but aren’t. But some of his favorites, like purslane, guava and goji berries, aren’t always available at regular grocery stores. I asked Dr. Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” to update his list with some favorite foods that are easy to find but don’t always find their way into our shopping carts. Here’s his advice.

1. Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power.
2. Cabbage: Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
How to eat: Asian-style slaw or as a crunchy topping on burgers and sandwiches.
3. Swiss chard: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
How to eat it: Chop and saute in olive oil.
4. Cinnamon: May help control blood sugar and cholesterol.
How to eat it: Sprinkle on coffee or oatmeal.
5. Pomegranate juice: Appears to lower blood pressure and loaded with antioxidants.
How to eat: Just drink it.
6. Dried plums: Okay, so they are really prunes, but they are packed with antioxidants.
How to eat: Wrapped in prosciutto and baked.
7. Pumpkin seeds: The most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death.
How to eat: Roasted as a snack, or sprinkled on salad.
8. Sardines: Dr. Bowden calls them “health food in a can.” They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
How to eat: Choose sardines packed in olive or sardine oil. Eat plain, mixed with salad, on toast, or mashed with dijon mustard and onions as a spread.
9. Turmeric: The “superstar of spices,” it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
How to eat: Mix with scrambled eggs or in any vegetable dish.
10. Frozen blueberries: Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round and don’t spoil; associated with better memory in animal studies.
How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
11. Canned pumpkin: A low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.
How to eat: Mix with a little butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

It was first published back in June 2008 and they re-published it this weekend. It's funny not only because the suggestion for incorporating two of the 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating into your diet is to add butter and proscuitto to them. I mean, what food doesn't taste better wrapped in pieces of pig or slathered in butter? But it's the comments that slay me. These - all 54 pages of them - are brilliant.
A sample

Well, we eat all these foods except #11, (canned pumpkin? Yak!) regularly and I really don't think we're "healthier" than any of our friends or neighbors. But I do have a suggestion for #5. Mix with vodka and garnish with a few #10s.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

More Updates

More giveaways: Todd at Home Construction Improvement tells me he's giving away a very useful 65 Piece Ratcheting Socket & Bit Driver Set by Husky. It looks cool and sturdy, just the thing for 2009 chores!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

In other blogs... Updated

Jean at Renovation Therapy is holding a Benefit Auction for a near homeless teen in SF. Items awaiting your bid include a felt condom warmer tea-bag cozy and some gorgeous Amish coasters. Unique stuff, nice idea and a good cause. Go check it out.
Anna at Door Sixteen and Marilyn at Simmer Till Done could use some love after the Homies 2008 debacle and Jenni at 1311 could use some luck.
Linda at ::Surroundings:: is running a contest to win a fabulous Tracy Glover lamp, while Nancy at The Rabbit Muse is working on a documentary about early 20th century artist's model Antonio Corsi.
What are you up to?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tomato Tapas

To welcome in the New Year I need something hot, sweet, zesty and good-looking, even if it's just a humble tomato. Here's my favorite from last night. Happy 2009!

Tomato Tapas

1 box Grape Tomatoes
Clove Garlic
Thinly sliced lemon zest
Couple sprigs fresh Rosemary
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
Spanish Olive Oil

Put ingredients in a shallow dish. You'll need enough olive oil to come a little way up the tomatoes - say 2 tablespoons or so. Bake in a 375F oven until the smell drives you crazy or 20-30 minutes.
Serve with chilled Fino Sherry, or Champagne on New Year's Eve, or as a side dish to Vension Shepherd's Pie on New Year's Day.
For real recipes go over to Simmer Till Done. Marilyn has some of her best posts of 2008 in a round-up edition. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Simmering gently today

I'm absolutely exhausted from the emotional tsunami of Tuesday, and the mojito, beer and overloaded nacho party we had while waiting for the results. Anyway, I will be returning to Cool House stories soon. Till then, pop over to the delightfully welcoming Marilyn at Simmer Till Done who bribed me with chocolate-tinis to tell her (and the internets) some fascinating facts about my food philosophy. OK done with the alliteration now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty 2008

Today is Blog Action Day '08, a day when bloggers worldwide unite to raise awareness of a single theme. This year the theme is poverty. Eight years have passed since the UN Millennium Declaration was adopted when the international community mandated to: "spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected."
The goals are, by 2015, to eradicate extreme poverty by halving the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day; to achieve full employment for all, including women and young people, and to cut in half the number of people who suffer from hunger. We are currently halfway through the timeframe and while some progress has been made there are still nearly one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water; ninety-three countries, with 62 percent of the world’s population, are not on track to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015; and, perhaps most heartbreaking of all, eleven million children below age five, some 30,000 every day, die each year from preventable causes.*
This is unacceptable and you may be wondering what we can do to help. Here's a few ideas to get you started:
- Learn more about poverty at home and globally by visiting the Millennium Campaign: End Poverty 2015
- Support local charities that work to combat poverty and join campaigns for nationwide action groups like Habitat for Humanity
- Microfinance an entrepreneur in the developing world through Kiva
- Donate at The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- Promote awareness of poverty by joining Blog Action Day 2008

*Statistics from United Nations Development Programme

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Project Humanity

At the beginning of the summer I mentioned that One Project Closer was running a competition for the best makeover with proceeds benefitting Habitat for Humanity. The competition deadline has passed but the fun continues. Now it is up to you, dear reader, to vote for the most impressive Before and After project. There are fourteen good'uns to choose from (including mine), and the lucky winner gets a $50 gift card.
Remember, US readers, that there are important elections coming up next month, and you need to get your technique down now. We don't need another hanging chad debacle, so practice for Nov 4 by selecting the most appropriate candidate at One Project Closer: Before and After.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's Your Name?

For those who want to know a little more about me - like my real first name, check out One Project Closer today. You should go visit anyway because they have lots of helpful tips. I'm sure if they'd had one on ladder etiquette I wouldn't be bruised right now...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Schmap for iPhone

I got an email this morning from the folks at Schmap to let me know their guides are now available for iPhone and iPod touch and my photos are included. I played around a lot with the online version and I'm totally in love with it. Schmap and iPhone - perfect synergy.
I'm glad I could play with it online because that's the nearest I'll get to actually possessing my own iPhone. After all what is the point of having a state of the art, intuitive, beautifully designed, expensive phone if you live in a VILLAGE WITH NO CELLPHONE SERVICE?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

E is for Excellence

I was very touched to be awarded an E for Excellent award from Ethan and Fred at One Project Closer. They kindly wrote I had challenged their artistic sides. It's funny that what started as a pure diary of the renovations on The Cool House has morphed into something much broader: a desire to share all that I find weird and wonderful, beautiful and unique, whether it's in my house or the neighborhood, across the globe or in cyberspace. I'm just pleased others find some of it interesting too.

This award requires that we show our appreciation by giving it to other EXCELLENT blogs, which is a challenge for me. I don't like to play favorites; it's like saying which of the kitties do you like best, it can't be done, coughCassiscough. All the blogs I read are excellent, I wouldn't bother otherwise, would I? Certainly all those to the left of this post are excellent and there are many more I read that are genius too, but in the interests of plying along here's a sample that you might like:

Simmer Till Done - the food, the recipes, the photos - culinary Nirvana.
House and Hound - dogs and decor, it's design with a canine twist
Charlie's Design Diary -the best Finland has to offer, art, design, textiles and architecture - not forgetting the landscape
Austin ModHouse - how to build a really cool mid-century modern inspired house. Just be awed right now. And did I mention it's near Austin? The music, the food, the margaritas, oh and reasonable weather; I want to relocate....
Renovation Therapy an obsession with Grey Gardens, chandeliers, chesterfields and cats
Scented Glossy Magazines - feeding my Bravo reality show obsession
Stupid and Contagious - music, stupidity, culture, sarcasm - this is the blog I'd write if The Cool House didn't take up all my free time